Tell Me, What’s a Girl to do? [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]

Tell Me, What’s a Girl to do?

Tell me, what’s a girl to do
When the gossoons court and cozen?
Some have none and some have two,
More can count a baker’s dozen.
Mary, Mary, by and by,
With the woman in you wakin’,
Boundin’ heart and laughin’ eye,
There’ll be murder, no mistakin’.

Cornered sits each captive lad
Gazin’ vacant at the rafter,
Talkin’ wisdom with your dad —
Faith, it isn’t him they’re after.
Wisha, Mary, there you be
Neat and sweet and fair and fetchin’,
Heart-whole still and fancy-free!
Yer’, Acushla, but ’tis ketchin’.

One can give you gold galore;
Life with gilded gauds he’d smother
One can give you something more,
Love, that ne’er can love another.

Boundin’ heart, and laughin’ eye.
In the twinklin’ sunlight walkin’;
Love, you tell me, passes by —
Wisha, Mary, don’t be talkin’.



Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

Editor’s notes:
acushla = darling; pulse of my heart (cushlamochree); pulse, vein, heart [see: P. W. Joyce. English As We Speak It in Ireland, Longman, Green & Co., London, 1910, pages 209, 245]
cozen = to persuade or induce to do something by cajoling or wheedling; or to mislead or deceive
gossoons = boys (also spelt gorsoons); “gossoon” is sometimes more specifically used for a servant boy, but is also used for “boy” in general
ketchin’ = [ketching] catching
wisha = an Irish exclamation; like the English exclamation “well, indeed”
yer’ = yerra or arrah is an exclamation, a phonetic representation of the Irish airĕ, meaning take care, look out, look you — ‘Yerra Bill why are you in such a hurry?’ [see: P. W. Joyce, page 62]

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